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New Taipei’s independent decision to declare July 11 ‘a typhoon day off’ breaks a long-lasting consensus

Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (left); New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (right)   (CNA file photo)

Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (left); New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (right) (CNA file photo) (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—New Taipei City Government’s decision at 9 p.m. on Tuesday to declare Wednesday (July 11) to be a typhoon day off broke a tradition established among the three municipalities in the Greater Taipei metropolitan area since 2012 to reach a consensus regarding whether or not to call off work and school when a typhoon is about to hit the area.

In June 2012, in response to the threats of Typhoon Guchol and Typhoon Talim that came one after another, former Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin came up with the idea of inviting New Taipei City, Keelung City, and Taoyuan City to participate in consensus decision making with regard to whether to call a particular day “a typhoon day off” on the eve of an approaching typhoon.

However, Taoyuan didn’t agree to the idea on the grounds that its geological location is too far south to be included in the greater Taipei life circle. New Taipei and Keelung had agreed to the idea and for six years the three cities had come together to discuss and reach a consensus when a typhoon was about to hit the area.

According to Central Weather Bureau’s forecast data about Typhoon Maria, Taipei and Keelung did not meet the class and work suspension standards, but part of New Taipei City did. Taipei and Keelung were inclined to announce “business as usual,” but New Taipei disagreed and independently declared July 11 to be a typhoon day off.

Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said that New Taipei’s typhoon day announcement had brought tremendous pressure and trouble to Taipei and Keelung, according to media reports. Lin said that after talking with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on the phone, they decided to announced “business as usual” for the two cities on Wednesday, according to a report. The Keelung mayor said New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) was currently out of the country and that maybe he was afraid of being criticized for not being home during Typhoon Maria, so he simply declared July 11 to be a typhoon day off, according to the report.

Chu reportedly received 1,500 messages on his Facebook, most of which praise him for giving them an extra holiday.

Ko said New Taipei is much bigger in area, but only a few districts, such as Gongliao District, met the standards for suspending work and classes, the report said. Ko said he told the Keelung mayor on the phone to “respect professionalism,” according to the report.